Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hoboken Board of Education Agenda - Tuesday March 12

2012 Hudson County Drop Out Percentages
The Hoboken Board of Education will meet on Tuesday evening March 12, 2013 at 7PM for a regularly scheduled meeting. It is budget time and no doubt the meeting will have a number of important ramifications for the community over the next year. 

One issue that may arise could be the waiver that the Kids First majority is seeking for the 2013-2014 annual budget. Some of you will recall that last year the Kids First majority choose to take the right to vote for the school budget away from Hoboken's voters provided the budget is less than 2% more than the previous year's budget. Less than a year later, the Kids First have asked for a waiver to this law-- increasing the budget by 4% (about $2.5 million) to a total of somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 million dollars. Keep in mind that 4 short year ago a number of Kids First members said publicly they could not vote for a budget of $59.1 million because it was excessive.
(Kids First) Board member Carrie Gilliard joined (Kids First member) Theresa Minutillo and (Kids First member) Rose Markle in opposition to the spending document. “$59 million is troubling me. We need to revisit this. I cannot support it,” she said. - Hoboken Reporter (April, 2009)
It is interesting that Kids First found a school budget of $59.1 million was "troubling", "unacceptable" and required "revisiting" in April of 2009 but in 2013 Kids First has no issue at all with a budget of $65 million? My estimate is that per pupil cost will be in the neighborhood of $30,000 per student for 2013-2014. 

Another issue that may arise is the planned district organization of Hoboken High School into a 7-12 school building. Some will remember that last year there was talk of going to a middle school model (Hoboken is currently a quasi- K-8; 9-12 district with the actual distribution more like PreK-K, 1-7, and 8-12 configuration). The moving of 7th graders to Hoboken High School is being received with mixed reactions around the city. It will be interesting to see what type of dissuasion, if any, this generates at Tuesday's meeting since there is a special meeting schedule focused of this specific topic on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7PM in the auditorium of Hoboken High School (last week's meeting was cancelled due to bad weather). 

The choice of expanding the student population to Hoboken High School in interesting given that currently it has the 2nd lowest graduation rate in Hudson County and had the 10th biggest one year drop in graduation rate for the entire State of New Jersey for 2011-2012. The drop in graduation rates combined with the troubling numbers from the 2012 Violence and Vandalism Report is bound to initiate some discussion. 

Some readers will remember that Dr. Cella was the principal of Hoboken High School when Hoboken High School was the 2nd Most Improved High School in the State of New Jersey (NJ Monthly) and won successive US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT Bronze Medal Awards. Significantly different from the current situation which finds a school that has failed to make Adequate yearly Progress, increased suspensions and expulsions, and a school which has seen 4 principals in 3 years. I believe this shows the critical importance of Board and building leadership rather than any negative implication for the teachers or students. It is sobering how quickly things can unravel without successful supervision, administration, and competent Board oversight.